Fool Me Once
Hello! It's Vanessa writing this week. Hope you all are surviving these first weeks back to the academic grindstone!
According to survey results shared by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), a little more than one in five people (22%) reported being confused by news reports that give dietary advice. Are you in that 22%? The best way to fight back is to be an informed consumer, and we want you to be as well-informed as possible. There are several types of nutrition misinformation out there. I'll outline 3 below, along with a resource to help you learn more.
Food Fads and Fad Diets are defined as unusual diets and eating patterns that promote short-term weight loss, with no concern for long-term weight maintenance or overall health. These diets are often super-trendy and can often be found on social media. They also have little to no scientific basis and promote ideas that consuming (or not consuming) certain food items, vitamin and mineral supplements, and combinations of certain foods, will help one lose weight or prevent/cure a disease. Examples include the “grapefruit diet” or “carnivore diet”.
Health Fraud is intentionally misleading in the quest for profit. Health fraud includes products or diets that have no scientific basis, yet are still promoted for good health and well-being. Common examples include promises of “fast, quick, and easy weight loss,” or a “miracle, cure-all product.” Health fraud often overlaps with food fads and fad diets.
Misdirected Health Claims are misguided statements made by producers that lead consumers to believe a food is healthier than actually the case. Examples include foods that are low in fat or low in carbohydrates, yet still high in calories. In this way manufacturers and marketers rely on the "healthy halo" of the health claim to distract the presumably calorie-conscious consumer.
Make sure that any information you are following is referenced from reputable sources. Seek out multiple perspectives regarding nutrition advice, and if you can, ask a nutrition expert about the source of the findings. Ensure that the information is up-to-date and not attempting to advertise or sell a product.
Want to a deeper dive on sniffing out nutrition misinformation? This very helpful resource from the University of New Hampshire gives you methods to evaluate and critique the next big health claim that crosses your path. You won't get fooled again!
Cited statistic: Position of the American Dietetic Association: Food and Nutrition Misinformation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2006.02.019